PETALING JAYA: Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin has called for stricter and more holistic enforcement to ensure there is no manipulation of local rice supplies.
The former prime minister said the government should also increase its stockpile and make efforts to increase production.
“Ad hoc actions taken at this time are not enough to ensure that food supplies are sufficient and affordable for the people,” he said in a Facebook post.
Muhyiddin said a comprehensive action plan was needed to overcome the shortage of local rice supplies and to ensure Malaysians always have food on the table.
The Pagoh MP said due to the difficulty in obtaining local rice, many were forced to line up for long hours to purchase them at outlets managed by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama).
He said since approximately 40% of Malaysia’s rice supply relied on imports from countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and India, the shortage became more critical when those countries imposed export restrictions.
Muhyiddin said global climate change had also resulted in drought and floods in many countries, disrupting the production of food supplies, including rice.
“This exposes Malaysia to the constant risk of rice supply shortages and price instability caused by either global supply chain issues or fluctuating foreign exchange rates,” he said.
Muhyiddin also lamented Malaysia’s declining production of rice in the past few years. In 2021, the country yielded 1.68 million tonnes of rice, but this dropped to 1.57 million tonnes in 2022.
“The government must take this issue seriously. It could be the start to a bigger crisis in the future,” he said.
Earlier, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) assured consumers that it had sufficient supply of white rice following shortage concerns, adding that there was no need to use the government’s stockpile.
Bernas, which has a monopoly to import rice, said it had distributed 630,000 tonnes of white rice from January to August, a 38% increase compared to the average monthly sales over the past five years.